Type 1 diabetic for over 30 years no longer able to work my 9-5. Currently living in Florida with my pet dogs and cat. I love to be crafty with beads and crochet and love to write. Check out my romance novels on Amazon under my pen name, Cat Banks, and my YouTube channel, grown up story time with Cat Banks. Happy Reading!
October is a fun time of year. Not only is the weather cooler, but the female slave is happy; she says it’s hockey season. This hockey season didn’t start in October, though. As she likes me to call her, Mom had to wait until January, and boy was she grumpy! I thought I was the moody one!
Hockey is where a bunch of guys chase something called a “puck” with sticks. My favorite toy is a stick as well, but mine has a mouse on end filled with yummy goodness called “catnip.” Mom says I am a nip addict and need a program. Whatever, mom. Go back to watching the TV.
The puck looks pretty fun to chase; I think I want to try it. I don’t know about this ice business, though. The ice is supposed to go in my water! So, twice a day, I require the slave to supply me with fresh ice or unleash the battle cry of terror until she complies.
The hockey humans aren’t taking my ice, so I guess it’s okay that they have some too. I don’t know why they put their feet on it, though; Mom yells at me when I put my feet on the ice. Okay, I put my feet on the ice in the glass she is drinking out of, but sharing is caring, right?
So, now Mom’s favorite team is in the playoffs. I don’t know what playoff means, but I like to play! Mom says they are playing for the Stanley Cup. Excuse me? Why do they want my dish? Of course, this cup would have to be named after me, not the other way around.
I like to sit and watch hockey with mom. She gives good cuddles, well, until she starts yelling at the TV. She uses a lot of four-letter words. I’m not bilingual, but I think it’s French. The guy we hear in the game telling everyone what’s going on. He does a lot of yelling too, when he yells, mom cheers.
The other day he kept yelling, “POINT! POINT!” Um, excuse me, do I look like a Labrador? I do not point. Mom says Point is the reason she would be a cougar. Whoa, really, mom? I’m a panther; that would be awesome! Then someone is talking about the Big Cat in the net. WHY IS THERE A CAT IN A NET? SOMEONE LET HIM OUT!!! And for goodness sake, how many cats do we need around here? Apparently, the other Florida cats went away. Mom said, good riddance, I’d have to agree.
Now they play with Islands. I think that’s weird. The island makes the puck do funny bounces. My toys make funny bounces too. They’re fun to chase.
I like watching everyone skate back and forth and back again. Sometimes they fall, but they do not land on their feet. Mom says they blew a tire. That’s ridiculous; There are no cars.
Sometimes they throw stuff, take their gloves off, and fight. I don’t know why they need their gloves off; I find fighting much more effective with my murder mittens out; just ask the dogs!
Some of the guys hit the wall pretty hard when they’re playing. I do that too sometimes. Mom laughs at me; she doesn’t laugh at the hockey people.
Lots of people on the TV boo the guys in black and white. I see them on the animal channel; what do these people have against zebras all of a sudden? The guys in black and white put players in a box. Um, hello! Why are we booing this? Boxes are everything! If they don’t want to sit in the box, I will gladly do it!
I digress. Mom says our team is the champs, and she wants them to be the champs again. So, let’s get down to the serious business; how many shrimps can this Stanley Cup hold? I’m hungry.
I apologize for my absence last week, I had some medical things going on. I’m getting better now, things shall resume as normal. I hope you’re having a happy Monday and I invite you to take a break and relax for story time.
I have mentioned before that I enjoy writing prompts. A simple thought carries my brain in multiple directions. I enjoy the challenge of thinking and, even more, recording those thoughts. I wasn’t sure where to go with my upcoming YouTube segment. Mondays are designated to be motivational and uplifting. I scoured the internet for help, and almost immediately,this sentence stood out to me:
What is your unique purpose?
The thought brings me to the existential question, why are we here? The answer is likely because we have a purpose, but how do we know what that is? Or is it even true? Here are my ten thoughts on the subject.
1.Believe. To discover your unique purpose, you must believe that you have one. I do think everyone has a particular purpose, as we are all unique individuals. Our structure is made different than anyone else’s, right down to everyone having their unique fingerprint.
2.Faith-based. As Christians, Faith teaches that God puts us on the earth for a purpose and will remain here until we complete it. We are also taught only God knows what that purpose is, but through prayer, we can ask Him to lead us to it. So, first, we believe that God has given us a purpose, and then we ask Him to lead us to it and follow our hearts where we think He is taking us. In my novel, “Have Faith,” Zoe’s main character undergoes several trials in her life that test her beliefs. At one point, she gives up, but inspiration comes from some unlikely sources. That’s all I’m saying about that. Feel free to snag the book on Amazon to learn more. (end shameless book plug here.)
3. Do what feels right. We all have that little voice in our heads that tells us right from wrong. Well, okay, most of us have that little voice. I do think part of psychopathology is missing that conscience piece, but most of us have one. We also get that intuitive gut feeling. If something feels wrong, it probably is. I had this feeling in my career. After 18 years in social work, my job no longer brought me joy. Most often, work stressed me out to the max, which I believe contributed to my variety of health problems. Following the corporate structure didn’t feel like what I was supposed to do. Crying every morning when I woke up and dreading going to work also didn’t feel right. I often curse diabetes and the shape I’m left in, but now, even thinking about having to return to my old field gives me intense anxiety. It took me a while to realize, but I believe I wasn’t meant to be there.
4. Don’t follow the crowd. Remember that old expression, “If all of your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too?” There is some merit to that. Doing something because every else is doing it is not your unique purpose. Doing something you want to do and feels right is a much better way to go.
5. Show your personality. For a long time, I was a no personality wallflower in public. I was afraid of being rejected by others. I was the saltless square cracker version of a human. You know, those crackers that you try to sneak to the dog but get caught because they don’t want them either? -yep, that was me. If a saltless cracker personality was what I showed people, I realized that they expect me to be a wallflower all the time. I don’t want to be a flat piece of cardboard food. I’m much happier being a fishy cracker or a pretzel fish cracker. Now, I realize “cracker” is generally a derogatory term for a person. In this instance, it’s a metaphor. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the makers of any of these snacks.
6. Stand up for yourself. Too often, we have ideas of what we want to do or be but don’t pursue them because someone else doesn’t think we should. Conforming to what others want us to lead us back to that proverbial cliff we don’t want to jump off. Just because others don’t understand or discourage our ideas doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue them. Our ideas are a big part of what makes us unique. Bearing in mind, of course, that occasionally people will point out why something is a bad idea, and we should always consider that advice.
7. Take risks. Not risks like I could die, but more of I’m afraid to do this. Don’t be scared to be who you are. Don’t be scared to go down a new path just because it might not work out. What if it does work? Being afraid to do something is much different than not doing something because it’s wrong.
8. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Do you have an idea of something you want, but you’re not sure how to pursue it? Ask someone familiar with what you want. The worst they can say is no; they won’t help you. For everyone who says no, there’s someone out there who will say yes. Asking for help can also refer to our mindset. Mental health matters have gained a lot of much-needed attention these days. It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s more than okay to ask for help with becoming okay.
9. It’s perfectly fine to start over. Last year was eye-opening to me. Not just because 2020 was an absolute disaster for the entire universe, but personally, my life went in a whole different direction. Often in my career, I would express displeasure to myself but think about what I would do if I weren’t doing this? Eventually, the universe forced my hand to find out. If you’re not happy in your current life, change it. That’s the only way anything gets any better or different. Become who you want to be, even if that means starting from square one in a new direction. Do this over and over again until you’re content. It’s the only way you’ll ever get there.
10. Finally, accept you may not figure out what your purpose in life is. You may go in many different directions, start over hundreds of times, and something may never feel right. That’s okay; what matters is you’re trying.
To sum up, be yourself. Your unique purpose in life starts with being an individual person. Oscar Wilde says, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
Happy new week everyone! I hope your weekend was restful and fun. Now we are back to the grind of Monday. Today’s writing is a feel good story, starring my dog. I write about my pets a lot so if you’re an animal lover like I am, hit that follow button! And now, take a break and let me tell you about how my dog saved me. Some heroes wear collars instead of capes.
It was a perfectly normal evening. Everyone was asleep, except me; I was writing. I was working on a pretty dramatic chapter of my novel when my dog Dopey stuck his nose under my elbow.
Dog people know this is canine for “Pay attention to me.” I gave him a quick scratch behind his ears and went back to my writing.
He nosed me again.
This time I scratched his butt. You know, that spot right at the top of the tail? He loves that! His legs did a little happy dance as he tried to control the feeling. I went back to my writing.
He nosed me again.
I asked Dopey if he had to go potty; he spun in a circle. I got up to take him out, and Dopey ran into my room.
“Dopey, that’s not where you go potty,” I said, confused. Dopey spun in a circle. “What are you doing?” I asked him. He walked over to my nightstand and looked at the basket where I keep my medication.
“Let’s go out,” I insisted. Dopey wasn’t having it. He continued to stare at the basket.
It started to hit me then, the dizzy, weak feeling that comes with low blood sugar.
I was diagnosed as type 1 diabetic right before I turned 4. Mom said I came home from the hospital on my uncle’s birthday, which was the beginning of August. I turned four at the end. I’m what they call a brittle diabetic. My sugars fluctuate wildly, sometimes for no reason. At the ripe old age of 40, I now have enough complications that managing a full-time job, along with taking care of my health, is impossible. Dopey usually is sensitive to my fluctuations and keeps me company when I don’t feel well. Now, he was sitting in my room staring at my blood sugar meter.
“Do I need this?” I asked Dopey as I picked up the machine’s case. He did a little happy dance. I checked my blood sugar, and it was 62. That’s too low.
This dog went from sound asleep to sensing my blood sugar was dropping and seeking my attention, then telling me he knew what that little machine was and that I needed it.
I made a sandwich, and then I made him a small sandwich of his own for being a good boy.
Dopey came to my roommate and me as a 14-week old puppy. He was wandering around my neighborhood by himself, wearing a cat collar that was much too small and dragging a ratty leash. I was with my roommate and his family at the time, and after getting him some water, we walked door to door around the neighborhood looking for anyone who might know something about the little guy. My roommate’s nephew and his wife decided if we couldn’t find his people, they wanted him but needed a foster until they were out on their own.
They decided he would have a Disney name. They started calling out to him by different character’s names, but the pup didn’t seem impressed. He wasn’t impressed, that is until they got to the dwarves.
Dopey’s ears have been the same size since he was a baby. As a pup, we thought maybe he would help the TV reception with them. The couple called out “Dopey,” the lovable big-eared dwarf; that’s when the pup turned around.
After knocking on dozens of doors, we found a neighbor who told us a car had pulled in about a week prior, tossed the pup out the door, and took off. The man had been leaving food out for the puppy to munch but couldn’t keep him.
It was becoming clear that I was about to be a foster parent.
I did my due diligence and posted on all the local lost and found sites, called the local vets, brought him in to the vet where my older dog went to check for a microchip. No one was looking for this adorable puppy. I called animal control. They were not very optimistic about his fate; I wasn’t having that.
In the beginning, Dopey wouldn’t have anything to do with my roommate. He didn’t seem to be particularly fond of men. He was terrified to get in the car and even more apprehensive about getting out. He recoiled from any large object, and potty training was a nightmare. He developed two loves: My older dog and me.
The other couple decided they wouldn’t be able to keep him after all. I was glad because I had already decided he was mine. I adopted him.
Dopey is seven now. He loves car rides, playing outside, butt scratches, and digging in the trash. He still cringes from loud noises and my cleaning utensils, but he will say hello to strangers now. He enjoys spending time with my roommate, but he is still my boy. He is also my hero.
I hope you enjoyed the story of my hero and will follow to stick around for more motivation, stories and book previews.
Every Saturday is known as Sensational Saturday as I feature the listing most viewed of the week in my Etsy shop. This week, the popular listing is my “dream bookmark”
I love a good book. In the days of electronics I still prefer a paper book. I’d rather hold it, flip pages, take my time, reread pages, even take notes if I want to. Books often times take us into another world. A good story allows the reader to create the picture of what’s happening in their head, almost like a dream. This beaded bookmark supports a reader’s dreaming! Whether it be bedtime reading rainy day travels to fantasy land this bookmark will happily hold your place! Made from glass seed beads, plastic word beads, glass hearts and acrylic accent beads, this bookmark is topped off by alloy moon charms on the ends. Perfect gift for yourself or that special bookworm in your life. Product shown is final product ready to ship. Some color variation may occur due to lighting. Products are protectively shipped in bubble mailers.
Hello everyone, happy Friday! Normally, I release a short, fiction story on Fridays. These stories are mostly based off of writing prompts. Today is a little different. I still based my writing off of a prompt, but it’s more of a “what if” than a story.
The writing prompt is “An unknown relative passes away and wills you a goat farm in a foreign land. What do you do?”
The first thing I would do is go to this foreign land. This journey would be thrilling for me because I have never left the United States. I would certainly hope the people in wherever I was going spoke English. I took French in both high school and college, but unfortunately, I remember how to ask where the bathroom is and the word for chicken; That’s about it. I figure those would be essential words to avoid a disaster. They eat snails in France; I’m making sure I get something good on the menu.
I wouldn’t have time to learn a foreign language. I am in charge of the estate, which means the goats need someone in a hurry.
Worst case scenario, I would need to hire a translator; A tall, handsome, foreign translator with an accent. Hmmm, maybe this is turning into a romance novel after all.
Okay, priorities; the goats need people. I would make sure the goats were healthy and had proper care right after learning how to take care of goats.
I would need them all checked out by a vet. In my romance novel, the vet would also be a handsome man.
Next, the goats need names. They are my new pets, after all. I would likely name them after fairy tale characters because this is the stuff that makes fairy tales.
Maybe the translator and vet are also princes and working together, they decide to unite their kingdoms thanks to my leading lady and the goat farm.
If the goats were miniature or had any baby goats, they would need pajamas because how cute is that?
After I assured the goats were healthy and well dressed, I would spend a lot of time with them. I would observe their behavior and probably make up stories starring the goats as if they were human. Stories about mother and father goats going to work in the field, having meals, and the kids playing would grace the pages of children’s books. I could narrate a character from each goat.
I would learn to like goat’s milk and how to make goat cheese. Of course, there would be a handsome farmhand to teach these things in my novel. Maybe I could make recipes and set up shop at the local farmer’s market.
I would go out and read the goats bedtime stories, probably from their children’s book series. The goats could be my beta readers. Their little ears are likely too young for the romance novel; I will save that for other people. After a bedtime story, I’d tuck them in and kiss them all goodnight.
After I’d mastered the art of goat tending, I would want to learn about my relative. Who were they? What were they like? How did they die? I think their demise would have been the result of a noble cause,
but as my relative, it’s more likely they choked on a gummy bear.
I’d want to know how they took care of the goats and what they were known for in this foreign land.
Lastly, I’d want to learn about the land. What specialties does the area offer? What are the people like? I’d want to go out and see the scenery, have some fun, and meet some people.
A goat farm in a foreign land would be quite the adventure, but I think it would be peaceful to write from a farmhouse. The real-life me would write romance novels and children’s books from the farmhouse and have my hands full of animal care and tending the land. The romance novel character would have a reverse harem to help.
Follow me for more fun!
Motivation Monday- Short pieces meant to motivate and uplift
Telling Tuesday- What am I working on in my Etsy shop?
Book Worm Wednesday- Snippets from my books published or in progress
Therapeutic Thursday- Handmade items meant to calm and bring peace
Fiction Friday- Short stories
Sensational Saturday- What’s trending this week in my Etsy shop
What’s more calming than break time for a hot cup of coffee or tea? Well, one thing that is not calming is burning your fingers on those hot cups! Keep your fingers safe and add a touch of pretty to your cup with a crocheted flower cozy.
Ever get tired of plain old boring cups? I do! Add some fun to your favorite beverage with this bright colored cozy! Crochet cozy features large pink flower, perfect for the coffee and tea lover of all things pretty. Cup not included
Hand wash, dry flat. Use mesh bag on gentle cycle if needed, air dry
Product is ready to ship, picture is of actual product. Some color variation may happen due to differences in lighting
Hey all, welcome to Book worm Wednesday! Today I’m sharing a work in progress. I’m only a few chapters in so I’d love some feedback in the comments section.
Harvesters is about a new and completely made-up hockey team. The setting is here in central Florida among all the fruit groves that need to be “harvested.” It is told in the points of view of two main characters. Blaine Noble is the captain of the Harvesters and Renee Dougan is the little sister of Blaine’s childhood best friend, Tommy. When Tommy has gone deep into a substance abuse problem, Renee seeks Blaine’s help to get her brother back on track. Blaine is willing to help but some bad people Tommy deals with, don’t like the situation very much. The more Blaine and Renee push to get Tommy help, the more dangerous it becomes for all of them and the harvesters organization.
This book does contain adult themes and language.
Here’s a sneak peek at the beginning of Harvesters
“SCORE!” I could see the announcer yelling on his feet as the goal light lit and the horn sounded. Hats started to fly onto the ice as the end of game buzzer sounded immediately after. My team surrounded me in the famous hockey hug as we had just secured our place at the top of the division with our 5-4 win.
I broke away from the pack, the packed arena chanting, “Victory lap!” But instead, I skated right to Kyle Parker, our goalie, wrapping him in an awkward hug over all his gear. The rest of the team followed suit, each tapping their helmet to his; after all, you can’t win a game solely on offense. It’s up to the big man in the pads to keep the puck out of the net.
We did the diplomatic glove tap exchange line, and after the other team left the ice, I took my victory lap, which was Harvester tradition. By then, the crew had cleaned up most celebratory hats to commemorate my hat trick, giving us the winning goal right when it counted.
I eyed the stands. The puck bunnies were in full force tonight. I observed my prospects, knowing not a single one would turn me down tonight, not that they ever turned me down. My eyes roamed over the sea of girls. Their short skirts and tight tops left little to the imagination. Then my gaze landed on one in particular. She was up and cheering with the rest of them, her long blond ponytail bouncing as she jumped, her eyes the bright blue color of the sea watching my lap. She wasn’t like the rest of the bunnies, though; she was in jeans and a jersey- My jersey. I scanned her up and down from her plump pink lips, her rack that my jersey did a too good job of hiding, the supple curve of her hips and her legs that went on for days. Those were the legs I wanted wrapping around me tonight. I winked at her, letting her know she was the one.
We were a brand new team, and my career was taking off. Not that Florida needed another professional hockey team. Still, when tech genius billionaire Wyatt Jennings says he wants to bring ice to his humble community where he grew up, you build an arena.
I met Wyatt during my freshman year of high school. We were assigned to be lab partners in science class. Wyatt was shocked that I actually wanted to work on the project, not make him do the whole thing, and I take all the credit. Apparently, that happened to him a lot. Wyatt was your stereotypical genius geek, but our last weekend finishing the project at my house, mom asked if he wanted to stay for dinner. We ate in front of the TV, it was an away game for our team, and as soon as the puck dropped, Wyatt was fascinated.
I’d been skating since I could walk. I had talent with the stick, and seeing as we followed my father wherever the army sent him, joining every kid’s hockey league was the quickest way to make friends. I didn’t usually get to stay long enough to win a championship, but I got my teams to a position to get to the playoffs with being there most of the season.
I brought Wyatt out on the ice once. We had the same size feet, so he got into a pair of my skates. What wasn’t so easy, it turned out, was him staying up on them. He turned out to be much happier in the stands, cheering me on. He would analyze the players on the other teams and compare them to pro players, he filled me in on their strengths and weaknesses, and at the end of that season, I won my first championship. I left my trophy with Wyatt as we soon moved again.
Years later, he was building a team, and I was his first call. The Florida Harvesters became my new home. Of course, there wasn’t anything tough or scary about central Florida’s fruit harvesting, but the scythe-wielding grim reaper, harvester of souls, made an excellent mascot on our black and orange home uniforms.
I had kept in touch with my friends over the years. It was easy to do through email, even if it was a monthly ‘hey, how’s it going?’ That got returned three weeks later. When Wyatt needed a team, I called on the best of the best from my childhood. It turns out we were still good, and having being army brats in common for most of us, we bonded like no other on and off the ice.
I found them all, except one. Tommy Dougan was my first best friend. We met on the ice when we were eight. He was always my best winger. Our dads served in the same unit, so we traveled together until we were twelve when his dad retired from military life and mine kept going. I missed Tommy. He was always ready for practice on the neighborhood pond or local skating rink. Always willing to push his annoying little sister Renee on her butt as soon as she got on the ice. That never stopped her from following us around, though. She was a mess of slim arms and legs, too long for her skinny frame, braided pigtails, and braces. She annoyed the hell out of Tommy, but their parents made him let her tag along anyway. He pushed her down, but it was always me that helped her up. I was an only child and always thought a sibling would be amazing, even if it were an annoying little sister. As long as I knew Tommy, Renee became my little sister too. Renee was more than that, but I would never tell Tommy how I felt about her. She had a kind heart, always trying to impress us and make us laugh. She also had these big blue eyes that I couldn’t help but admire.
Tommy and I stayed in touch until we were sixteen. He had an accident on the ice and tore an ACL. It was always Tommy’s dream to go pro. Even when the injury healed, who knew if he would be good enough when his confidence was shaken. He became more and more depressed, and as time went on, despite my best efforts, Tommy disappeared. I thought about him as I was making calls to recruit players. I wanted him here, with me on the team, on the coaching staff-something, but I had no idea where he went.
I had finished my shower and followed my team out of the locker room where the puck bunnies waited in the hall. It was the same every time. We walk through, announce what club we were hitting up that night then search out the one we winked at from the ice when we got there. They never had any idea what was going on in the game; just that the number on our scoreboard was bigger than the number on the other teams was enough to get them under us at the end of the night.
I made my way down the hall, and there she was, entirely out of place being fully clothed. I looked right at her as the defensemen behind me were calling out the name of the club.
“Nice hat trick, Noble!” She called out to me as I walked by. I stopped and studied her, there was something familiar about her, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.
“No one ever could catch you on a breakaway. It looks like you just got faster. Guess that’s how you’re leading the team in points,” she said.
My eyebrows raised as I stopped and studied her.
“Why are you staring at me like there’s a limp dick growing out of my forehead? Did you think I was one of these fuck toy bunnies?” She asked me.
I stared at her in shock. The girl was no bunny. She could spout hockey stats, had the face of an angel, the body of a vixen, the mouth of a sailor, and the whole package was wrapped up in my jersey. I was in love.
“Put me in with the bunnies,” I told the kid at the arena ticket window.
The guy scanned me up and down. “You’re certainly hot enough, but you don’t look like a puck bunny,” he said.
“I’m not, but tonight I need them,” I replied.
The guy gave me a funny look but sold me the ticket. I found my seat in the packed arena, and sure enough, puck bunnies surrounded me. I smiled briefly at the guy calling me hot. Sure, puberty had done well by me, but I wasn’t here for the players. Well, scratch that; I was here for one player, but not in that sense. I was here for my brother. Tommy had gone off the deep end, and I was worried about him. What had started with wanting too many painkillers after a teenage hockey injury had grown into a full-blown adult drug addiction. Tommy needed help, he needed rehab, and he needed someone who would get him there. I couldn’t do it, our parents couldn’t do it, losing his girlfriend didn’t do it, so I opted for the next step- his childhood best friend. That is if Blaine Noble’s ego hadn’t grown big enough to forget who his friends were.
I recognized a bunch of names on these jerseys from the army bases. I was guessing this team was all Blaine, and he did know who his friends were. Unfortunately, Tommy was currently not on the roster. I knew if Tommy were whole, he would be right next to Blaine, on his line, every shift, every game.
Blaine skated a fantastic game, scoring three goals. I ripped my hat off my ponytail and threw it down toward the ice with everyone else’s, and joined in the celebration. The brand new Florida Harvesters had won the game and the top spot in their division. Blaine had gotten his second hat trick of the season, and it was only half over. He celebrated with his team on the ice and did his due diligence to send off the losing team before taking a slow victory lap for the remaining fans. My particular group of bunnies was the loudest and caught his attention. His eyes set on me. He cocked his head like he was trying to figure me out. Did he remember me? He hadn’t seen me since I was eleven. He scanned me up and down and sent me a wink. Maybe he remembered me after all?
Blaine had always been my favorite friend of Tommy’s. I idolized my big brother. He was barely a year older than me, and I was a tomboy. I followed him everywhere. Mostly because Mom made him let me come, he hated it and took every opportunity to knock me down, especially on the ice. The other girls had figure skates, but not me. I had hockey skates, and I was determined to use them. The rest of Tommy’s friends laughed when he pushed me down, but not Blaine. He always helped me up. “Come on, little Doogie,” He’d say as he pulled me back to my feet. “We’ll knock him down next.” We never did knock Tommy down, but it always made me feel better that Blaine helped me up instead of laugh at me. When I was eleven, I wrote in my diary that I would marry Blaine Noble one day.
Now, I just needed to talk to him. I needed him to know what was going on with his friend and try to get him to come to help me knock some sense into my brother. The bunnies were filing out of the stands, and I knew they would lead me right to the players, so I stuck with them. This was my best chance of getting Blaine to notice me.
It worked. The players were walking through the hall. All showered and dressed for a night out to celebrate the victory. They announced the club they would be partaking in alcohol consumption at, giving the puck bunnies the benefit of showing up there to go home with one of them. I waited as most of the team passed, several eyeing me before one of the girls in a lot less clothing clutched onto their arms.
Then I spotted him. The guy was attractive even as a kid, but man, did he grow up hot. Whips of his dirty blond hair fell over his forehead, still damp from his shower. The fitted black t-shirt over blue jeans left little to the imagination about the abs that hours in the gym sculpted underneath it, and his emerald green eyes apparently could melt a woman’s underwear right off. I had heard from the gossip news that Blaine Noble had become quite the playboy in his rookie season of pro hockey. He was headed in my direction and had already passed over about six puck bunnies.
His eyes met mine as he approached. I started to believe the hype about the underwear melting as I felt my insides heat up from his gaze. Stop it, Renee, he’s practically your other brother, and Tommy needs you. Put your hormones in check, I said to myself.
“Nice hat trick, Noble!” I called out to him.
He stopped in front of me, studying me. I continued to spout stats at him, telling him I wasn’t a regular puck bunny. I knew the game. I was expecting a line from this smooth talker who had winked at me not even an hour before, but he continued to study me.
“Why are you staring at me like there’s a limp dick growing out of my forehead? Did you think I was one of these fuck toy bunnies?” I asked him.
“Hey!” said a short blond in booty shorts and a crop top, giving me a dirty look.
“No offense,” I smiled sheepishly at her.
She smiled sweetly at Blaine and, when she figured she wasn’t getting anywhere, started making eyes toward the goalie.
Blaine and I turned our attention back to each other. “Don’t tell me you’re too good to recognize an old friend’s little sister,” I said.
“I’m pretty sure I’d remember a little sister who looked like you, and I’m pretty sure her brother would have kicked my ass for what’s going through my head right now.”
There he was, the playboy.
“Blaine, it’s Renee,” I said. “Renee Dougan.”
“Little Doogie? No fucking way!” Blain said, his face lighting up. He studied me closer and saw the scar on my forehead over my left eye where I had walked into Tommy’s skates slung over his shoulder when I was following them, and he stopped abruptly in front of me. “It is you!” He said and dropped his bag of gear. Blaine wrapped me in a bear hug, picking me up and swinging me around. I squealed as I hugged him back.
He set me down and put his hands on my shoulders, looking me over. “Wow, you grew up!”
“Yeah, that tends to happen over the years,” I countered.
“You always were a smart ass,” He said with a smirk.
I know he meant it friendly, not sexual, but a hot guy’s smirk always had the power to melt me. Blaine’s currently was no exception. “Always better to be a smart ass,” I started.
“Than a dumb ass,” We said in unison, laughing as we repeated what his father always used to tell us.
“How is your dad?” I asked him. I knew his mom had passed away a few years ago. They were overseas at the time, so that we couldn’t attend services, but Dad had made sure to send a card from all of us.
“He’s good!” Blaine said, “Still out in Montana. He’s come down for a couple of games.”
Just then, the last of the guys burst through the locker room doors, doing a lot of celebrating. A forward from Blaine’s line known as ‘Turner’ stopped to throw an arm around him. “Captain, you going to introduce me to your friend?” He asked, winking at me. I gave him a polite smile.
“Hell no, you womanizing pig, get outta here,” Blaine said, laughing the guy off.
“You coming to celebrate?” Turner asked.
“Eh, We’ll see,” Blaine said.
“Awww shit, I get it, see ya, captain!” The guy said, looking between Blaine and me with a seemingly knowing smile before strolling down the hall and cheering some more.
“Renee, can I take you to dinner? The locker room hallway isn’t the best place to catch up,” Blaine said.
“Yeah, I’d like that,” I replied. I was grateful for his invite. What I needed from him was going to be a lot easier to ask in a quiet restaurant.
An hour later, I was in a little black dress, parked in the lot of an Italian restaurant about to ask professional hockey’s rising star for help with my addict brother. Still, if I had to be honest with myself, Tommy wasn’t the only reason I was nervous about having dinner with Blaine.
Today, I’m going to talk about something a little different, but I feel it’s important.
It’s the importance of being your less than serious self. I’m going to use writing as an example.
There are several types of writers. Journalists, for example, bring us the news of what’s going on in the world. They write facts, the real stuff, no matter how pleasant- or daunting they may be.
Is this an important role? Absolutely. However, that’s not the type of writer I am.
Bloggers, traditionally, give us information or teach us how to do things. Are they important? Heck yes! I learned how to crochet, make jewelry, clean stubborn stains, and make homemade dog biscuits from blogs. They’re similar to journalists in that everything you want to know, someone has written about the subject. Is this the type of writer I am? Nope. While I have a blog, It’s less than serious information, and there are no how-tos. I would never grace myself with the title of teacher.
Researchers publish their findings to show the world new things they’ve discovered and why they’re valuable. Their words improve life by showing us what’s out there. Everything we know today is because someone discovered and reported about it. These writers are of monumental importance. I, however, am not one of them either.
I write what some consider to be fluff. I enjoy the less than serious approach to life. Why do I believe this to be important? Because we all deserve a break sometimes. We need to take a load off from the world.
I have a confession to make. I’m a TikTok junkie. TikTok is a fantastic platform that connects like-minded people through a genius algorithm. It shows you a variety of people making videos, you start liking them, and then it brings you together with more people who enjoy the same things you do and more creators that provide this content.
The best thing I have found since I’ve started my writing journey is BookTok, TikTok users who love to read, and several authors, many indie authors like myself.
What’s troublesome is how many of my fellow romance authors are told they’re not real writers, that their writing serves no purpose; it’s “fluff.”
Au contraire. We have a purpose. We provide a much-needed break from reality. In our world, the quirky girl gets the hot guy. The villains pay for their crimes, and there’s a happy ending. We go into dimensions of magic and mystery where mythical creatures exist, and fantasies come true. We want to bring our readers with us to other worlds of mystery and wonder, even if just for a little while. We want to provide that escape when the real world gets overwhelming.
I feel this is the case for anyone who provides entertainment. Authors, actors and actresses, professional athletes, musicians, and anyone else in the entertainment industry play an essential role in the world. Some may see what we do as fluff, but I say, be fluffy; someone has to.
We may not change or save the world, but we do make it a little brighter.
The sirens were deafening, and the flashing lights were blinding. I was having a horrible time running in my heels. I followed the paramedics as quickly as I could through the hospital doors. The tears blurred my vision. My throat hurt, but I didn’t really know what I was yelling. I didn’t know what the staff was yelling at me either. All I knew was my Stephen was headed into the hospital with tubes and machines making him live when we were supposed to be having dessert.
“Mrs. Cunningham? Could you come with me, please? We need some information.” A young blond nurse guided my elbow away from the scene but brought me to an area where I could still see. She was petite, Pretty. Her blond hair was perfectly secured in a low ponytail, and her eyes perfectly lined. Mine just looks a mess. The nurses’ name tag indicated her name was Tracy, and she was an RN in the emergency department.
“Mrs. Cunningham, can you tell me what happened, please?”
“Please, dear, call me Phoebe,” I requested.
“Okay, Phoebe, what was going on when your husband collapsed.”
“We were having dinner. It’s our anniversary. Ten years today, we have been married. We were having a perfectly normal conversation when he grabbed his chest and collapsed. I screamed. Luckily there was a doctor at the next table who did CPR, and the restaurant manager called 911.”
“I see. Phoebe, does your husband have any allergies?” Tracy asked.
“Yes, he’s allergic to shellfish. I made sure the waiter knew, and he assured me the chef had everything separate.”
“Is he on any medication?” Tracy asked.
“Yes, He is on 40 mg of Lisinopril for his blood pressure. That’s it”
“So he has high blood pressure?” Tracy asked.
“Yes, he’s a lawyer; they all do.” II was true; all of his closest law friends were all on blood pressure medication. The girls and I exchanged healthy versions of their favorite junk foods to serve for rotating poker nights. We knew they threw them out and ate what they wanted, but we tried.
“Tracy?” My eyes filled with tears. “Is he going to be alright?”
Just then, the glass door to his ER room opened. “OR is ready. He’s heading up!” The doctor shouted.
I ran over with Tracy at my heels. She urged me not to get in the way. I watched the Staff wheel Stephen’s bed through the double doors to the Operating Room. The emergency doctor stayed behind.
“Mrs. Cunningham?” He addressed me
“Yes, doctor? How is he?”
“Your husband has a pretty serious blockage causing him to have a heart attack. He is headed to emergency surgery to clear the blockage. He should be fine once the blockage is cleared, but there is a chance part of the blockage could break off and cause problems.”
“What kind of problems?” I inquired.
Dr. Phillips gave me that look.
“Oh.” My eyes welled up again.
Tracy retook my arm. “Come on, Phoebe, let me bring you to the family waiting room.”
I nodded and went with her.
The room was stark. The fluorescent lights made the white walls whiter. Someone had tried to put up some cheer with a colorful flower border at the top. The pink padded chairs matched the pink in the roses on the border. There was a vending machine in the corner advertising overpriced, almost expired snacks. Next to it was a brochure wall about all the different hospital departments and underneath that was a table of magazines and local ad and coupon books. A TV was mounted in the corner. It was playing a documentary about horses.
There was a man already in the waiting room. He was likely late 50’s. His salt and pepper hair was thinning on top. The loose strands combed across his scalp. He wore an oversized sport coat and his gold-rimmed round glasses perched on the end of his nose, which was in a book. I noticed it was Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
I sat down a few chairs from the man and rested my head back against the wall. I let out a big sigh, trying to keep my composure. I could feel my eyes welling up again. The man offered me his pocket square.
“Oh, thank you, but I don’t want to ruin it.”
“It’s fine,” He said, giving me a sweet smile. “I have at least 50.”
I smiled back as I took the fabric from him. “Thank you,” I said, dabbing my eyes.
“My wife is in there,” he said. “Having heart surgery.”
I nodded. “My husband too. Today is our anniversary. He collapsed in the restaurant at dinner.”
“Ah, anniversaries. My Elizabeth and I celebrated our 25th last week.” He looked wistfully in the air as if recalling their wedding day. “Amazing how time flies.”
“Yes, it certainly is,” I noted his book. “What a classic,” I remarked.
“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then,” he quoted. “Seemed fitting for today.“
“You speak the truth,” I agreed.
“Have you been married long?” He asked.
“10 years today. They say he had a heart attack.”
“That’s young,” he commented. “You two must be in your 30’s.”
“I’m 39, and he’s 42.”
“Yep, young. Do you have kids?” He asked.
“No, children were not in the cards for either of us. Stephen is a lawyer. He’s always swamped. I have a condition that leaves me unable to have children. So I keep busy with my online craft store, and I do what Stephen needs. It’s a full-time job keeping track of him.” I studied the older man. “What about you?”
“Elizabeth has blessed me with two beautiful daughters. April is 22. She is finishing college, and Amber is 20. She chose a trade and is an apprentice to an electrician.”
“Wow, Impressive,” I commented. “It sounds like you two raised them well.”
“Well, we certainly tried. Elizabeth and I were raised in the city. We have known each other our whole lives! We’ve always gone to school together. We used to sneak onto the highway bridge and spit on cars” he chuckled at the memory. “I asked her to marry me right out of high school. She said no.” he chuckled again. “She went to college. I went to the service. When I came home, she had a degree. I tried again, and this time she said yes.” He leaned close to me and looked me in the face like he was telling me a secret. “We eloped to Vegas,” he winked at me.
“Ooooh,” I admired. “Saucy”
“Yes,” he chuckled. “Our parents were so mad. They didn’t forgive us until April was born. We moved out to the country. Horse farms everywhere. Our girls played in the dirt. All I can hope now is that my girls find the loves of their lives as we did.”
I smiled. The older man just warmed my heart talking about his beloved.
“Where did you meet your young man?” He asked.
“College. I’m the first female in my family to go. I grew up a country girl. Barefoot in the dirt and tire swings were my normal. I graduated with my BA, Stephen went to law school. He asked me to marry him on graduation night. We had a huge wedding. I felt like a princess. He’s treated me like one ever since. I adjusted well to the city. Made friends with his friend’s wives. We have a book club on Thursdays. The boys play poker on Friday. We rotate houses for both. It works.” I leaned back against the wall again.
“Are you a religious person?” He asked.
“I was raised in the church, but I haven’t been active as an adult.”
He held out his hand. “Would you like to pray with me now?”
I moved closer and took his hand. We said the “Our Father” together.
Just as we finished, a woman appeared in the doorway. “Don!” She yelled at the old man, “What are you doing?”
Don looked like a deer in the headlights. He gripped his chair. I think he was debating making a break for it. “Don’t you dare,” the woman warned. “Dr. Harper, Guys, He’s in here!” she called down the hall.
Soon there was a small gathering of hospital employees headed by a doctor in a white coat taking hold of Don. The doctor studied him. “Don, that’s my Jacket; where did you find those pants? Those are the nurse’s glasses. Oh, Don” The orderlies walked him away.
I stood up to the doctor. “I suppose then this is your pocket square?” I held it out but was still wringing it in my nervous hands.
Dr. Harper eyed it and my nervous stance. “Keep it,” he said. “I’ve got 50.”
I glanced around the room. The coupon book advertised a Spaghetti dinner at St. Elizabeth’s church, followed by Vegas night. The calendar was set in April, and the picture was “amber waves of grain” with America the beautiful set on it. The copy of Alice’s adventures in wonderland had fallen to the floor. I picked it up Quoting Don Quoting the book. “I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.”
“I understand you must be very confused.” The woman who had come to get Don began. “My brother is a regular patient here. He suffers from a type of dissociative disorder, and they believe schizophrenia. He just randomly makes up who he is based on his surroundings.”
“So nothing he said was real? He doesn’t have a wife having surgery? No daughters?” I asked.
“Sadly no, our parents passed away a few years ago. They managed him his whole life. I have been trying in their absence with the help of Dr. Harper, but clearly, I’m not doing well enough.” She sighed.
“I’m sorry.” I offered. “that must be such a difficult thing to deal with.”
“Well, I will leave you be,” she said. “I have to go deal with the consequences of his escape. I hope whoever you are here for is okay.” With that, she was gone.
I picked up the book and sat back down. I didn’t know how even to begin to process today.
“Mrs. Cunningham?” A doctor in surgical scrubs entered the waiting room.
“Yes?” I got up and approached him eagerly.
“We were able to clear the blockage, and your husband is doing well. He was fortunate! We’re going to be keeping him a few days to keep an eye on him and run some more tests, and then he’ll be ready to come home with you.”
“Oh, thank you, doctor, that’s fantastic news! I’m so relieved. May I see him?”
“Sure, the nurse will come to get you when he’s awake enough for visitors.”
I sat back down and breathed a sigh of relief. I looked up at the TV and saw the horses running around on the documentary. “Horse farms everywhere,” I thought of Don. I shook my head and laughed.
“Mrs. Cunningham, you may see your husband now.”
I followed the nurse into Stephen’s room. He looked so frail, laying on the bed in a hospital gown. He had tubes and monitors everywhere. He was still my handsome man, though. I walked up and kissed his forehead.
He opened his eyes. “Hey baby,” he said, taking my hand and bringing it to his lips, “Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.”
“I could say the same for you! How are you feeling.”
“High,” he answered. “I’m sorry I ruined our anniversary.”
“Not at all, my love. If anything, almost losing you made me realize how much I love you and how much I cherish our life together.”
“It was the strangest thing.” He said, “I blacked out, but then I woke up, and I was in… Wonderland? Nothing made sense.”
I put the book on his lap. I guess this was meant to come to us today.
Stephen studied me quizzically “where did you find this?”